Solberg Einar & Shirley Sigurdson

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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Sigurdson, Solberg Einar & Shirley

My paternal grandfather, Ólafur (Oli) Þorsteinsson was born at Fjarðarkot in Mjóifjörður, Iceland (1884). He was the only child of Þorsteinn Jónsson (later Mjofjörd) and Ingibjörg Einarsdóttir. Ingibjörg’s former husband was Eiríkur Pálsson Isfeld with whom she had several children, and all of whom came to North America. Þorsteinn and Ingibjörg spent 3 years in North Dakota before moving to Husavik and settling at Hólmur. Ingibjörg’s eldest daughter had married in N.D, but the rest came with their mother and some homesteaded on their own in Winnipeg Beach, Husavik, Gimli and Langruth.

Oli Thorsteinnson was a builder by trade and a musician by choice. He had played fiddle from an early age, and when he went to Winnipeg at 16 to apprentice with a builder, he also took music lessons. His story can be seen elsewhere, but he was instrumental in the building of the Gimli park pavilion and his orchestra often played there. In later life he ceased building and took up music as a vocation, teaching piano and violin to many local students. He also used his knowledge of woodworking to make violins.

Oli met my paternal grandmother, Kristín, during the time her family lived in Gimli. Her father, Andrés Jónsson Skagfeld, had immigrated to Canada in 1883 with his first wife and daughter. The wife died in 1884 in childbirth and the children both died soon thereafter, the older by drowning and the other as an infant.

Andres’ second wife, Kristin’s mother, had arrived in 1882 with her first husband, who drowned in the Red River, at Selkirk when they were enroute to meet more members of her family who were arriving in Winnipeg. Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir was born in 1860 in Reyðarfjörður, Iceland. Andres was born in 1855 at Stora-Vatnskard in Húnavatnsýsla, although his family’s roots were in Skagafjörður, near Glaumbær.


Kristín was born in 1885 and her parents married in 1887. They settled on a homestead called Solheimar in Geysir in 1885. In 1900 the Skagfelds set up storekeeping in Selkirk, but moved to Gimli in 1901.. Andres with his brother-in-law, Jon Petursson was a foreman for the building of the Gimli pier. The family made a final move in 1902, likely leaving Kristín behind (She married my grandfather Oli in 1904). They homesteaded again at Hove near Oak Point where Andres developed a successful farm and was the storekeeper and postmaster for the community. It is said he started a library, was the road foreman and a school board member.

My father, Edward, was Kristín’s and Oli’s older son. He and his brother Andres took over the farming of Hólmur from their grandparents, Thorsteinn and Ingibjörg, as teenagers, and their mother got them started as storekeepers. They learned carpentry from their father and these occupations were the mainstays of their lives. My father also became the postmaster. The store was a social centre for the district - neighbours came to shop, pick up their mail, and often stayed for a good long visit with the Thorsteinson Brothers. My mother and Kathleen, Andy’s wife, did a large part of the storekeeping especially when the men were working on the farm or at carpentry jobs.

Hólmur was a fun and interesting place to grow up but I left to study Medical Laboratory Technology in Winnipeg at 17. I worked at the Winnipeg Clinic for a time, the Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, and spent a year working in Bermuda before moving to Edmonton where I worked at the Provincial Laboratory of Public Health until the birth of our first son Grant.

I married Solli Sigurdson (See above) in 1973 and we have always made our home in Edmonton, except for sabbatical leaves in the U. S., Australia, and British Columbia. We come home to the Gimli area in the summer and still own Hólmur at Husavik. Hólmur was designated a Century Farm in 1992.